Glamour And Grit: Chioma Ikokwu Talks Business, Beauty, And Benevolence
Chioma Ikokwu is a trailblazer who likes to see women flourishing in various sectors, shattering barriers, and changing the face of business. Women are not just advancing; they are making a lasting impression and exhibiting unmatched intelligence and tenacity. Recognised as Chioma Goodhair, Chioma Ikokwu is a shining example of skillfully combining glitz with tenacity to navigate the corporate world.
With her business partner Kika Osunde, Chioma started Good Hair Ltd. in 2009 and moved the successful company to Nigeria in 2014. “The Good Hair Space,” the duo’s creation, has become a beauty enthusiast’s paradise, offering various services like a cosmetics studio, men’s grooming centre, hair salon, and a VIP lounge. Notable for its high-quality hair extensions, the Good Hair brand has cemented its position as a preferred choice nationwide. She also runs Brass and Copper Restaurant and Lounge as CEO. Beyond the glitz of the hospitality and beauty industries, Chioma’s charitable spirit is evident in “The Good Way Foundation,” which focuses on providing healthcare to the underprivileged. This is evidence of her commitment to making a positive impact.
In this interview with THEWILL DOWNTOWN’s Dorcas Akintoye, Chioma Ikokwu delves into the intricacies of her multifaceted career.
Your educational background includes an LL.M. in International Environmental Law. How do you intertwine your legal knowledge with the entrepreneurial world, especially in industries like beauty and hospitality?
Ironically, my background in International Environmental Law has proven to be quite the secret weapon in the hospitality field. It keeps me hyper-aware of the world around me, which is crucial in an industry that creates experiences. It’s a bit of a different story on the beauty front – law and lipsticks don’t exactly mix, but I love that my legal side is this separate, unique layer that adds depth to who I am. It’s like having two worlds that, in a weird way, complement each other. I wouldn’t have it any other way; it’s what makes me, well, me.
Chioma, your partnership with Kika Osunde in founding Good Hair Ltd. has proven successful. How do you balance friendship and business, ensuring both thrive?
Working with Kika has been absolutely phenomenal! It is like this magical blend of business savvy and friendship fun. We’ve got this unwritten rulebook of open chats, clear roles, and a shared love for all things beauty and lifestyle. Can you believe it’s been 15 years? And yeah, we totally changed the whole “besties can’t run a business” stereotype. We click because we respect each other and let each other thrive at what we are good at.
We have these heart-to-heart check-ins, and throw a little party for every win, big or small. It’s not just business; it’s a legacy, a celebration of friendship, growth, and keeping things fresh and fabulous every single day!
Co-founding “Good Hair Ltd” in England before moving to Nigeria showcases your global perspective. How did the cultural shift influence your business strategies, and what challenges did you overcome during this transition?
Co-founding “Good Hair Ltd” in England and later moving to Nigeria brought a cultural shift that influenced our business strategies. Adapting to the unique beauty preferences in Nigeria, we integrated traditional practices, overcoming challenges like regulatory differences and adjusting marketing approaches. This transition not only showcased adaptability but also enriched our brand, blending English sophistication with Nigerian vibrancy, making “Good Hair Ltd” a global success.
Managing multiple businesses like Good Hair Ltd., Brass and Copper Restaurant & Lounge, and Chioma’s Closet requires great organisational skills. Can you share some tips on effectively balancing and prioritising your responsibilities?
Juggling multiple businesses, like Good Hair Ltd., Brass and Copper Restaurant & Lounge, and Chioma’s Closet, is a wild ride! I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeve, though. I live and ride by my schedule and my team —it’s like my roadmap for the day. Delegating is my superhero move; my team rocks, and trusting them lets each business flourish. Every now and then, I shake things up, reassess priorities, and make sure I’m not drowning in details. Just communicating with my team is essential, just keeping everyone in the loop, and yeah, taking breaks is a must. It’s a wild dance, but somehow it all comes together.
Before establishing Good Hair Ltd., did you have any other business ventures or projects that laid the foundation for your entrepreneurial journey?
Absolutely not. I was 18 years old at the time, studying Law in the University. I had no experience running a business. I just started because I wanted to solve a problem I had, and by doing that, I was able to work with my friend and business partner, Kika, to start a business that has become very successful. I’m proud of how far we’ve come.
“The Good Hair Space” sounds like a multifaceted beauty hub. What inspired the concept, and how do you see it contributing to the beauty industry in Nigeria?
The Good Hair Space is basically Kika, and I’s beauty playground dream come true. We didn’t want it being just hair – I wanted a spot where beauty gets a whole new meaning. Imagine a place where your hair dreams and every other beauty whim can come true. It’s not just about looks; it’s about celebrating every bit of fabulous you’ve got. I’m thinking The Good Hair Space is already shaking up the beauty game in Nigeria, making it the go-to spot for a vibe that’s as unique and diverse as ours. So I would say watch this space!
“The Good Way Foundation” reflects your commitment to philanthropy. What specific experiences or values led you to establish this organisation, and can you share a memorable impact it has had on a community?
When I was in England, my partner at the time had sickle cell anaemia. I had heard about sickle cell but never had a close relationship with someone who had it. I went on so many hospital visits with him, and it really hurt seeing him suffer so much. There were times he said he wished he could just end it all. I started reading about sickle cell anaemia and became concerned about people who had to deal with the pain. I knew I wanted to help people with not just sickle cell but other situations I could help with in general.
Does The Good Way Foundation only focus on healthcare, or are there other social issues or causes that you are passionate about and may consider addressing in the future?
Yes, we have other initiatives focused on other social issues. We’re currently working on a project focused on human and sex trafficking.
It’s an investigative documentary series. I’m very passionate about women. We go through so much in the society. Being a lawyer, I know the legal implications of this situation for them. The docuseries is still in the works, but I’d definitely share more details about it as it unfolds.
Your recent outreach to women in Ikotun for breast and cervical cancer screenings is commendable. Can you share the motivation behind this initiative and the importance of healthcare in your philanthropic efforts?
The breast and cervical cancer awareness outreach we had in Ikotun, Lagos state, is something I’ve always wanted to do since I lost my aunty to breast cancer. Losing her hurt me so much. While I cannot do anything to change it, I can definitely do something to help raise awareness about breast and cervical cancer. I’m inspired to not just speak about these issues but also to make a difference.
The Good Way Foundation is also committed to providing further assistance to the women diagnosed with critical conditions at the outreach.
“Chioma’s Closet” is a unique venture where fans can purchase your personal outfits. What inspired you to start this e-commerce platform, and how do you curate the items you offer?
That’s such an interesting question. I love fashion, and I have tons of luxury clothes, shoes and bags. I hardly ever repeat my outfits, so you can imagine what my wardrobe looks like. Being an Environmental Lawyer, I’m also passionate about sustainability, so I believe that’s where I got the idea to sell my pre-loved items.
Using 50% of the proceeds from “Chioma’s Closet” to fund “The Good Way Foundation” is a brilliant idea. How did you come up with this concept, and what impact have you seen on your foundation’s initiatives?
I’m a businesswoman, so I’m constantly thinking of ways to create more solutions to problems.
Running a nonprofit is not an easy feat; how much more funding it on your own. I needed to think of creative solutions to keep my nonprofit running so I can keep changing lives. While I thought of selling my pre-loved items to promote sustainability, I saw an opportunity too for The Good Way Foundation.
During the launch of Chioma’s Closet, we raised some money that we used to donate a borehole tank in a rural community in Lagos, Nigeria. I know that as we keep raising more funds and getting support, we will continue to do more for the less fortunate in society.
Joining the cast of “The Real Housewives Of Lagos” must have brought new dynamics to your public image. How has this experience influenced your personal and professional life?
Joining the Real Housewives has given me a whole different experience. I’ve always been focused on my businesses alone and not really out there, but being a reality TV star has brought more visibility than I had before the show. I’ve also made new friends like Iyabo Ojo. The Real Housewives is the first place people got to see my philanthropic efforts when I got a prosthetic arm for my staff that got involved in an accident. I also launched my new business, Chioma’s Closet, on the show and my fellow housewives were very supportive.
“The Real Housewives Of Lagos” showcases various aspects of personal lives. What made you decide to join the cast, and how has the experience challenged or enriched your life?
Being part of “The Real Housewives of Lagos” was a bit of a wild ride, bringing some awareness, but let’s be real – it didn’t make me who I am. Sure, I connected with some cool people on the show, and that’s awesome. Overall, it was an okay experience, with its fair share of ups and downs, but life’s way more than what you see on TV.
“Brass and Copper Restaurant & Lounge” adds a different dimension to your ventures. What inspired the foray into the hospitality sector, and how do you see it evolving in the coming years?
Opening up Brass and Copper Restaurant & Lounge was all about wanting to shake things up a bit in the hospitality scene. I mean, who doesn’t love great food in a killer ambience, right? Looking ahead, I see it turning into this super cool space where folks not only chow down on fantastic eats but also soak in an awesome vibe. The plan is to keep surprising and wowing our guests, making Brass and Copper the spot for all those unforgettable moments. Cheers to good times ahead!
Fashion plays a significant role in your public persona. How do you balance your personal style with the demands of being an entrepreneur and a public figure?
Rocking my personal style while juggling the entrepreneur and public figure game is all about keeping it real and flexible. I stay true to what I love, but I’m not afraid to switch it up when the occasion calls for it. From business meetings to public appearances, it’s a dance between being professional and letting my personality shine through. It’s all about feeling good, looking good, and having fun with it!
In the dynamic world of beauty and fashion, trends evolve quickly. How do you stay ahead and ensure Good Hair Ltd. remains a go-to brand for premium hair extensions?
Navigating the ever-changing beauty and fashion scene is a wild ride, but at Good Hair Ltd., we thrive on staying ahead. Our journey from England to Nigeria has taught us to be adaptable and tailor our strategies to diverse markets. By embracing local cultures and integrating traditional beauty practices, we’ve created a brand with cross-cultural flair. Staying in tune with consumer preferences, reassessing priorities, and having a vibrant, responsive team are our secret ingredients.
In this industry, best believe everyone is wearing Good Hair Ltd. just because of how consistent and quality-driven we are won’t trade this respect for anything in the world!
Managing personal and professional life can be demanding. How do you maintain a work-life balance, ensuring success in both aspects without compromising either?
Managing the whole work and personal is like spinning plates, but I’ve got my own little circus going on. One secret?
Boundaries. When it’s work time, I’m in the zone, and when it’s me-time, I’m off the grid. My awesome team picks up the slack, so I don’t turn into a workaholic. Oh, and self-care? It’s my religion. Taking breaks, chilling out – non-negotiable. Life’s a crazy ride, but finding that groove where both my work and play sides are winning? That’s the real magic.
What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs who are looking to build a brand that not only succeeds commercially but also makes a positive impact on society?
I’ll say building a business anywhere is not easy. It takes a lot of grit, planning, dedication, hard work, smart work and dedication.
You need to also stay true to yourself and the vision of your business. There are going to be so many opinions and trends, but what’s most important is prioritisings the values of your business.
With your diverse experiences, what is one piece of wisdom or mantra that you carry with you in both your personal and professional life?
Keeping it real is my go-to vibe in both my personal and professional life. Life could be a bit chaotic, so you might as well enjoy it and stay true to yourself.
Whether it’s a business deal or a weekend adventure, embracing the journey and keeping things authentic is where the magic happens.
Dorcas Akintoye is a versatile writer with a passion for beauty, fashion, relationships, and culinary delight. With a keen eye for detail and a passion for storytelling, she adds a touch of elegance to every topic she explores. She is a writer at THEWILL DOWNTOWN.